Find good homes for gun dog pups: Over the past few months friends of mine have been asking if they can have a pup from my labrador bitch if she ever has a litter.

I have relented and plan to mate her this spring.

I’ve never bred a litter of pups before and am willing to give the pups to my friends for free.

Could this approach undermine how they value the pups? And is there a way to ensure that I find good homes for the other gun dog puppies?

Jeremy Hunt says: It’s a generous gesture to give pups away to friends, but it’s a tough call to say whether or not it’s the right thing to do.

A lot depends on how well you know them and how committed they are to taking on a gun dog for life.

You must take it upon yourself to ascertain their commitment.

I don’t expect any of your friends will have anticipated you would be giving them a pup for free, so even if you have a truly genuine group of friends who each want one of these pups, I still think you could make a nominal charge; either to help cover the cost of the stud fee or the rearing costs. You could always donate the contribution to a charity.

Everyone values something more if it’s had to be paid for.

There can often be times when puppy buyers see the pretty pup change into a leggy and destructive or boisterous teenager, and begin to regret buying it.

A free pup may, and I stress may, be more likely to end up back with you when the going gets tough for the new owner. Only you can make that assessment.

You are right to ask about how to make sure the rest of the litter find good homes.

Your vet may allow you to place an advert for the pups in their surgery; you could also try magazine or online advertising.

Don’t under-price the pups as a way of trying to sell them more quickly.

Giving puppies a good homeTo find good homes for gun dog puppies is no easy task.

Selling pups can be a tricky business; you only have a few weeks of optimum appeal for the pet market – pups from 10 weeks old start to lose their puppy appeal and if you are relying on some going to pet homes it’s the “ooh-aah” look that often clinches a sale.

Make sure you start advertising pups well ahead of their anticipated eight-week departure age so you can have them ordered in advance by their new owners.

Labrador pups are selling for upwards of £450 depending on your location and how well bred the pups are. Regional labrador clubs – as well as the Labrador Club itself – have puppy registers for owners with litters to sell.

Be careful about how much information you give over the telephone.

Some potential buyers may not be all they seem.

The more desperate you appear to be to sell the pups, the greater chance you may end up being approached by a dealer prepared to take the remaining pups off your hands.

Start generating interest in the litter from week one to avoid a mad panic when the pups get to seven weeks old and you still have none ordered.

And if you have used a well-known stud gun dog, make sure the owner knows about the litter.

Selling pups isn’t always easy for a first-time breeder in a market that produces well over 40,000 labrador pups a year, so get things moving early and you will hopefully have enough buyers to be able to secure the best homes.

Do not give any away to strangers under any circumstances.

For more gun dog breeding advice click here